I’m still with so much that happened at the retreat …

that ended this past Sunday. As always, it is stunning when a group of women gather in a room for a week with the intention of unraveling what keeps us stuck and powerless…

One of the themes was how fiercely attached we are to our suffering. I know that sounds silly — who wants to be in pain — but over and over, as someone would pop into joy or happiness, she’d get worried that “it is illegal” or “I’m going to get in trouble.” And the result of that would be that she’d pick up her anxiety again. Or get worried about what life would be like at home. I kept pointing out, because I know it so well in myself, that it’s unfamiliar to allow ourselves to feel joy for no reason. Joy just because we are breathing and get to live another day on planet Earth.

So many of us are tilted to the negative. (That’s me. I confess.) We believe we need to suffer to make up for everything that went “wrong.” Somehow, if we keep sacrificing our happiness, someone up there — the person who gives out gold stars based on quantity of suffering — will see us and reward us. And then, only then, will we be able to relax. It’s sort of like saying that only when we lose weight or have that job or find a partner can we allow ourselves to take in the good that is already in our lives. Only then will we let ourselves off the hook. (But the problem with this reasoning of course is that it’s already happened. We’ve already lost weight and for some reason or multiple reasons, we gained it back. Now we’re waiting for our lives to begin until certain conditions are met.

It’s the way we snag ourselves, entrance ourselves. It’s the way we keep the suffering going. It’s the way we keep postponing joy. We keep waiting to be ready.

One of the last questions I asked was: Who would you be if you were unapologetically yourself?

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